The Flux Preview

After Blood & Honor (which is in layout right now and should be available very soon!), I’m working on a project called The Big Book of Little Games.

It’s a collection of all the "little games" I’ve done over the years. Games like Schauermarchen, which most people have seen; games like Yesterday’s Tomorrow, that only a few people have seen; and games like The Flux, that almost nobody has ever seen.

I’m going through each game, revising here and there, and writing a new introduction for each. Here’s the intro for The Flux
 

***

“About two weeks ago, the world died.”

That sentence hung in the air. He said it but I don’t know what it means. I look at the beer on the table, afraid to look at him.

“You mean…” I start to ask the question, but he answers it before I finish.

“I mean,” he tells me, “that two weeks ago, the world died.”

I pick up the beer, feeling the cold glass under my fingers. I take a drink. “Okay,” I tell him. “What does that mean to me?”

His eyes stared at me from across the table. He hadn’t touched his beer. I was ready for my second.

“The world is like everything else,” he told me. “We’re all part of the same system.” He started with his hands together at the palms, slowly bringing them apart. We’re born, we live, we grow old.” He brought his hands back together. “We die.”

“Yes,” I said, not sure what to say.

“The world is the same way,” he told me. “And just two weeks ago, it died.”

I nodded. “All right. But we’re still here.”

He pointed at me. “That’s because the world lives in cycles. After it dies, it’s born again.”

“Like a phoenix,” I said.

He nodded again, his eyes still wide. “Yes. Like a phoenix. Exactly. Born from the ashes of the old world. Made from the same stuff.”

“I assume then,” reaching back to my philosophy classes in college, “that since we’re made from the same stuff, a lot of what we are is predicated on what we were.”

He smiled. “Yes,” he said. “You’re getting it now.”

“So two weeks ago, the world was reborn. Why didn’t anybody notice?”

“Only a few people notice,” he told me. “And only a few people remember.”

“I don’t remember,” I said.

His eyes grew wider. “I know. But you did. The world made you forget. You lost yourself in the Flux.”

“Is that what it’s called?” I drank more beer. The jukebox in the corner changed from Ratt to Poison. That guy with the mullet who put his dollars in the box couldn’t let go of high school.

“That’s what we call it,” he said. “Those who remember. The Flux comes and the whole world dies and is reborn in the span of a heartbeat. And most everybody doesn’t even notice. They just keep on going the same way they’ve always been going, assuming the whole world has always been this way.”

“So, all my memories? They’re all fake?”

He shook his head. “No, they’re real. The world is what it’s always been. Until the Flux comes along and changes everything. Then, when the world is completely different, it’s still the way it’s always been.”

“But you remember the way it was?”

“Yes. And the way it’s been before.”

I nodded. “Tell me.”

“Oh, the last time before the world died, it was full of airships and steam-powered marvels. Mad scientists and mystery men. It was amazing.”

“Sounds like it.”

“The time before? It was all horror show. Secret societies and occult workings and—oh, it was just like something out of Aleister Crowley’s wettest, darkest, bloodiest dream.”

“And the time before that?”

“That’s a little fuzzy,” he said, frowning just a little. “I remember swords. A red dress. Something about revenge…”

I nodded. “I see.”

He paused. Looked at me strangely. “I don’t think you do.”

“Oh, I do,” I told him. “I honestly do.” I got my purse and stood. He stood with me.

“I don’t think that you do,” he said again. He reached forward. I tried to avoid him, but he grabbed my arm. “But you will,” he said.

I felt it, then. A rush through my skin like lightning and fire. I tried to breathe, but the whole world was caught in my throat.

Worlds.

… I was in a long dress on the deck of a ship. A skyship. And it was mine. Stolen from a man with a broken heart. I was surrounded by lovely men. The sky was orange and red and the sun was plump and sinking below the horizon…

… where a black castle stood. I had a sword strapped to my waist and a horse beneath me. The dust of the road in my long, braided hair. I had only half a day left to go. And when I reached the castle, I would have my revenge. Finally, I would have…

… the Opal. Once and for all. It belonged to my father and it belonged now to me. But the man who stole it demanded a sacrifice. I let the gown fall from my shoulders and he watched in that dark room. The bed loomed between us like an omen. Standing naked in the moonlight, he held the Opal in his fingers. And I would have it. And I would make him pay for making me…

… kiss him. That’s what my mind told me to do. “Kiss him!” I reached forward and put my lips against his. His hands reached up and his fingers ran through my hair. We stood together on the deck of the ship. Stars looked back at us from the view screens. “The AI can pilot us to Cygnus VII,” he said. I smiled. “Yes,” I told him…

… yes.

That word hung between us. From my lips. I said it again.

“Yes.”

His hand still on my arm. “Now,” he said. “Now, you see.”

“Through all the worlds,” I told him. “You and I are together.”

He nodded. “Yes.”

“Sometimes enemies,” I said.

“Sometimes lovers,” he said.

“Sometimes both.” One of us said that. I can’t remember who it was now.

“What is it this time?” he asked.

I smiled.

***

The Flux is an idea I’ve had for a long time. A multiple reality roleplaying game where the players don’t jump from world to world, but instead, the world jumps to them. The only problem was, the game itself could be summed up on one or two pages. I could pad the game out with worlds of my own, but that always felt like padding. Here, in this book, the game has finally found a home.

The Flux has many inspirations, but chief among them was a deep desire to run every game I own. But players want continuity. They liked the stories I was telling and they liked the characters they were playing. If only there was a way for me to keep continuity between games

And that’s really where The Flux comes from. Players want continuity and I have short-attention span disorder when it comes to roleplaying games.

(Even now, with the incredibly wonderful Changeling game I’m running, I’m just itching to run Pendragon.)

My solution was The Flux. Every game I’ve ever run has had The Flux under it. Every game world is really just a Fluxworld, waiting to shift into something else. Similar names, familiar faces, but slightly different circumstances.

The (Real) Nefarious Doctor Zen

Back when I was line developer for L5R, I met a man who was blessed with the name "Zen Faulks." Mr. Faulks was on the way to becoming Dr. Zen, and so, I gave him the nickname "The Nefarious Doctor Zen."

The Nefarious Doctor has shown up in a couple of things I’ve done (including the new Yesterday’s Tomorrow, which you should go check out now!). But I just wanted to point out to everyone that the Nefarious Doctor’s origins and point them to his science blog.

Hi Zen! Keep up that Evil Science!

By the way, the Yesterday’s Tomorrow PDF is up at the game’s website. Download the Pulp Edition for free!

Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe!

My Uncle Tom was the first person in our family who had a VCR. He’d set it to record everything. One of my favorites was replays of the old Flash Gordon serials.

Here’s the entire Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe! serial–every single cliffhanging episode–on Youtube. This isn’t the first FG serial; it’s the third. I’m watching these prepping for a setting in Yesterday’s Tomorrow.

Oh, and you’re welcome. 🙂

Rincon ’09 Wrap Up

We arrived Friday night: me, and . We met up with Stan! () and Hyrum () who were two of the primary reasons I was looking forward to going. I have discovered recently that the key to the Good Life is surrounding yourself with Good People. Stan! and Hyrum certainly qualify. Fabien, Snag and Ben were there as well. More qualifiers for the previously mentioned category. We spent Friday night catching up, chatting and getting ready for the show. It was gonna be busy.

Saturday morning I was part of a seminar calling "Failing Forward" with the Mighty Mighty Paul Tevis (of Have Games Will Travel). The seminar went really well and the room was surprisingly full. Usually, seminars include maybe five or six people. We talked for the entire two hours about success and failure in RPGs, how failure is sometimes more interesting and how to encourage your players to choose it over success. I cannot refrain from saying, "Our seminar on failure was a complete success." You may throw rotten fruit now.

We were sharing a small booth with Stan!, Hyrum and Paul. After the seminar, I returned to the booth to discover we were selling books like mad. I was completely surprised. Usually at small conventions, we have to be masters of the shill: dragging folks over to the booth and running demos to get them to look at anything. As it turned out, folks were grabbing up books left and right.

Saturday afternoon was the Blood & Tears larp. It is only now that I realize I was so busy co-running the event that I had no opportunities to take pictures. And I should have. Folks arrived in gorgeous costumes. put together a collage of revenge red that knocked my jaw to the floor. If anyone has pictures, please post them here or point me to a place where I can link to them.

As folks gathered for the game, we realized we did not have enough pre-generated characters to cover everyone. I quickly started statting up new ones. acquired so many women players just by saying, "We have costumes!" that it became a running gag for the rest of the convention.

I was very happy we got so many Camarilla players: an opportunity to demonstrate a different kind of live action game. showed up to play and looked as if she was having a wonderful time. (I later confirmed my suspicions.) At first, the basics of the system were a little foreign, but once our players figured out what was going on, they were full steam forward. I was proud like a poppa.

Saturday night was running a secret playtest of Yesterday’s Tomorrow! I’m still very much in love with the system but now have a few more kewl elements to add on. This is the steampunk/rocket-men/pulp adventure game I’ve always wanted to play. We followed that up with chatting with Stan! and Hyrum about all kinds of stuff until the early hours. After they went to bed, I ran up to the Rat’s Nest and hung out with some of my Phoenix friends including the inestimable Jessie F (whom I did not get to see enough of at the convention).

Sunday was two more seminars (Play Dirty and Game Design) which went as expected. And then, it was time to say goodbye to everyone. We made a ton of cash from the booth, ran a fantastic larp, showed a bunch of people a new game and sat down for dinner with Paul and Ryan Macklin (from The Master Plan) before we drove home to Phoenix.

Thank you to everyone for a wonderful weekend!